Kawhi Leonard is now one of the top players in the league, winning the NBA Finals twice and being Finals MVP in each title run as well.
However, he wasn’t always seen that way. Many teams made the mistake of passing up on him in the 2011 NBA draft. He was picked 15th overall, and even then the team that drafted him, the Indiana Pacers, traded him away to the San Antonio Spurs for George Hill.
Needless to say, Kawhi has far surpassed expectations. Nobody expected him to reach the level he’s at right now, and looking back on it, it seems almost silly that Kawhi wasn’t at least a top two or three pick. Of course, it is all hindsight now, but it’s still interesting to consider.
THE SHOT 🏀
Two years ago, Kawhi Leonard hit a four-bounce beauty that defied physics and sent an entire country into a frenzy 🇨🇦
— The GIST Canada (@thegistca) May 12, 2021
Kawhi Leonard Laughed After A Pre Draft Workout With The Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings were one of the teams that could have had their hands on Kawhi Leonard had things played out the right way.
They held the seventh pick in the draft, and they chose to take center Bismack Biyombo. Of course, that pick didn’t pan out that well as Biyombo was instantly traded on draft night to the then Charlotte Bobcats so that the Kings could pick up Jimmer Fredette.
The Kings weren’t a particularly good team at the time, often finishing near the bottom of the league when it came to standings. Their culture wasn’t established at the time, and it’s something Kawhi realized after he had a pre-draft workout with Sacramento. When asked about how he felt about the Kings’ culture, Kawhi refused to comment outright, saying “I’m Not Sure If You Want Me To Say That, It’s Personal.”
It looks like draft night worked out pretty well for Kawhi. He quickly became the leader of the Spurs as Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan all started to regress as they got up there in age. He would later be traded to Toronto where he had one of the most impressive Finals run in NBA history. Now, he’s trying to win another championship in his hometown with the Los Angeles Clippers.